Supreme Court

Maui Mayor Won't Settle Clean Water Act Case

Efforts to take Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund off the Supreme Court's docket hit a snag.


On November 6, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral argument in Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fundeasily the most significant environmental case on the Supreme Court's docket this term (at least so far). At issue is whether the Clean Water Act's permitting requirements apply to activities that discharge pollutants into groundwater that eventually reaches navigable waters.

If the Supreme Court were to conclude that water pollution conveyed through groundwater is subject to the CWA, this would greatly expand the range of activities subject to CWA regulation. In Hawaii alone this would likely impose the CWA's permitting requirements on over 6,000 underground injection wells and over 20,000 septic systems.

Fearful that the Supreme Court will reject a broad interpretation of the CWA's scope, environmentalist groups have been seeking to settle the Maui case before the Court rules. Last month, the Maui County Council voted to settle the case, but Maui's mayor refuses to go along, arguing that it is not in the best interests of the people of Maui to settle and that the county council cannot settle the case unilaterally.

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  1. A finding that ground water “contamination” comes under the purview of the EPA would amount to a grain of sand dropping in the ocean. What it would do is grant license to EPA to “inspect, register and license” EVERY septic system in this country. Millions of them. And potentially every time a person turned a shovelful of earth to plant a rosebush, an “environmental impact” study would have to be committed. Ground water could be contaminated by your pet. By mowing your yard. Probably by washing the mud off your boots. IOW we would be like the old USSR, only we wouldn’t be standing in line for bread, but for a permit to mow the yard, wash the car or driveway or anything else.

    1. Over-regulation becomes a perverse parody of a corrupt system, where the economy is in shambles because you can’t do anything without making “payments” to government. Taking the quotes off payments (which is far from done) doesn’t alter the shambles trajectory.

  2. The case involves treated wastewater injected into West Maui wells that eventually reaches the ocean.

  3. Trotted out there in order to hint that solar/wind production is erratic when it is often the USAGE that is erratic.

    When you attempt to dispel a scapegoat and wind up reminding everyone that, economically, it’s not just one scapegoat but two.

    Not only is supply erratic but demand is as well. Our current grid manages to match supply to demand pretty efficiently and it’s pretty clear that solar/wind can’t.

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